Although Elon Musk, who is the CEO of Tesla, thinks that the technology behind hydrogen cars is ‘mind-bogglingly stupid’ and that success with this technology is not possible, the tech is shaping up to threaten the market share of Tesla.
The state of California has announced its ambition to spend about $2.5 billion into clean energy sources. This will also include an investment of around $900 million into hydrogen refueling stations and electric charging stations, and the state has targeted the year 2025 to complete all the investments in clean energy infrastructure.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and a 2017 survey of 1000 of the world’s top executives in the auto industry has concluded that the tech behind hydrogen fuel cell will ultimately beat the battery-powered vehicles in the future.
Fuel cell vehicles combine hydrogen with oxygen to create electricity and propel the car. The hydrogen is stored inside the tank of the car while oxygen is derived from the air, and the byproduct of this propulsion system is water vapor. Compared to battery-powered electric vehicles, vehicles that use hydrogen do not have to be plugged in an outlet to charge, and models that use this tech have more than 300 miles of range, which is far more than electric vehicles. Fuel cell cars can get filled up with hydrogen in refueling stations just like petrol and diesel-run cars, and they fill up as quickly as their counterparts. Electric cars need more than a couple of hours to charge to full capacity.
Some scientists have argued that producing clean hydrogen does take up fossil fuels and ultimately pollute the environment, clean sources of hydrogen do exist such as agricultural and waste sites. Majority of the hydrogen is derived from natural gas, which emits carbon dioxide in the air and heats up the environment.
Hydrogen power has existed for many decades, but it yet to take off. There are currently only 39 hydrogen refueling stations in the state of California, and a further 25 are still in development. This number is still not adequate to service the fuel cell vehicles in the California region, but the situation is slowly improving.
The tech behind hydrogen did not take off due to a severe shortage in infrastructure, such as a dearth of hydrogen refueling stations that handicapped this tech. Extraction of hydrogen is also not cheap, and currently, it costs more to run a fuel cell vehicle than a battery-powered electric vehicle.
In the near future, as governments all around the developed world begin to invest more behind this technology, the cost to run a fuel cell vehicle will drastically decrease and the proposition of a hydrogen car will become more appealing to the consumers. Companies like Toyota are investing in the technology to manufacture sustainable cars that have good mileage and safe to drive around. Within the next 20 to 30 years, hydrogen-run cars will compete with electric cars such as Tesla in a more serious manner, and in the long run, it will only be beneficial for the consumers.